Haryana In Cahoots With Developers’AmitAnand.Choudhary@timesgroup.com
The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Haryana government for turning a bind eye to ecological degradation of Aravali hills over the years and “conniving” with real estate developers to allow them to exploit the protected zones for commercial gains.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said some of the state’s authorities were responsible for the present tragic situation causing irreversible damage to Aravali hills. It said the authorities preferred to espouse the interests of builders and mining companies instead of complying with various orders of SC passed since 1996 to preserve the ecological balance of the sensitive zones. It said the rule of law seemed to have broken down in Haryana and law was being manipulated to favour private persons.
“Despite the clear judgement and order passed by this court, the attitude of some sections of the state government obviously did not change and unrestricted development through mining activity and construction activity was given precedence over the environment resulting in… a parched Badkal Lake (in Faridabad),” it said.
“The unfortunate and distressing consequence of this is that because of a complete lack of any concern for the environmental and ecological degradation carried out in the Aravali hills by influential colonisers like the applicant and what appears to be a very strong mining lobby in Haryana, the damage caused to the Aravali hills is irreversible. It is not only the future generations that have to pay a heavy price for this environmental degradation, but even the present generation is paying a heavy price,” the bench said.
The court said constructions went on for the last 26 years as town & country planning and forest departments of the Haryana government kept fighting with the former favouring colonisation of the area and the latter standing for environmental protection and conservation. “There is no doubt that at the end of the day, the state of Haryana comes out in very poor light and must be held accountable for conflicting and self-destructive stand taken in spite of affidavits filed by the chief secretary of the state from time to time supporting the forest department,” the bench said.
In 1996, the court prohibited mining within a 2 km radius of Badkal and Surajkund lakes and construction activity of any type within a radius of 5 km from the lakes.